Firstly, thank you! That means a lot to me :)
I think I first became (relatively!) confident in my work as an artist when I was in my honours year at university which was 2012. I first started making artwork (seriously) when I was 15 (2005), so that’s a good 7 years, 4 of which were spent in an intensive art school environment surrounded by other people making work, my lecturers opinions, and my own doubts and insecurities. When I first began at art school, I hated people even seeing my stuff, and used to face all the things in my studio to the wall. In my mind everyone’s work was better than mine and I avoided situations where they might be compared.
Gradually, the more I worked, the more I discovered the way in which I was happy making and expressing myself visually. I stopped trying in vain to paint portraits and moved towards more abstract modes of making, those which felt natural - strangely familiar. My work started to feel more honest in what it was and what it was trying to achieve. I was shocked but pleasantly surprised that I felt like what I wanted to say was more successfully communicated in abstract works rather than representational. As soon as I allowed what I was making to “breathe” and almost have a life of its own, beyond my control, I began to get more comfortable with showing people.
You don’t want ties between you as a person and your art to be too intrinsic, because criticism will utterly destroy you. However, you do want those ties to be there. I know a work is successful if I have the guts to stand beside it and give it a voice and to stick up for it. Like a fierce friendship, if you truly think and believe that your work is good and true you will defend it till the end. This confidence takes time, happens gradually, and is not a consistent thing. I still care about other people’s opinions, and to an extent, that can be important. But you don’t want it to be debilitating, or dictate why and how you make work.
Start gradually with the sharing of your work, make an Instagram account or a separate Tumblr blog to your personal one. Build up your tolerance for relinquishing that intimate hold. Be open to criticism, but don’t let it destroy you. Before you know it you’ll have done your millionth solo exhibition and not thought twice about it. Practice makes perfect and don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. Just keep making!